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Your idea is good, but my name will hurt your cause.

… nobody wishes it [your proposal] more success than I do, and, if it succeeds, it will certainly be of proportionable public utility. but I have thought it my duty to the public, as well as to myself, never to bring myself forward in any matter where it is not necessary. the cases in which my name has been used by private individuals … becomes the occasion of indecent scurrilities … I ought to avoid giving occasion to when not necessary, wishing every success therefore to your enterprise …
To Leroy Anderson, September 7, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders reserve their clout for the big issues.
Anderson had sent the President a draft of a prospectus on a “public utility,” one designed for both public good and business success. He asked Jefferson’s endorsement. The prospectus was being held at the printers, awaiting a response.

The President declined his endorsement, although he recognized the public value of Anderson’s proposal. Why?
1. He kept his name away from issues that did not require it.
2. His name associated with any cause became a lightning rod for his political opposition.
3. There was no point in giving offense when it was not necessary.

Although he would not endorse the project, Jefferson closed by wishing Anderson “every success.”

“Thanks to you, our Institute Planning Committee
was showered with accolades …”
Executive Director, Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors
Your audience will praise you for bringing Mr. Jefferson to them.
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Why piss people off when it can be avoided?

on seeing an account of Gibaut’s death in the Salem paper I immediately ordered a commission for Kittridge. I gave notice of it to Crownenshield by the same post. I am glad it was done. for after a good candidate is known, delay only gives time to intrigue, to interest a greater number of persons & consequently to make more malcontents by disappointment.
To Albert Gallatin, August 30, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Decisive leaders nip potential problems in the bud.
Without going into detail about the individuals or position, death created a vacancy in a federally appointed office. As soon as the President learned of it in the newspaper, he immediately appointed another and made a public announcement. Why act so quickly?
1. He had a qualified candidate, so there was no need to wait.
2. Delay created space for political intrigue to develop.
3. Delay gave time for other candidates to express interest.
4. The result would create “malcontents” among those not chosen.

“We appreciated your willingness to take questions from the audience,
handling all questions with thoughtfulness and agility.”
Western Coal Transportation Association, Denver, CO
Thomas Jefferson delights to answer questions from his audience, no holds barred!
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Chemistry, like all science, should serve a practical purpose.

… of the importance of turning a knolege of chemistry to houshold purposes I have been long satisfied. the common herd of philosophers [scientists] seem to write only for one another. the chemists have filled volumes on the composition of a thousand substances of no sort of importance to the purposes of life; while the arts of making bread, butter cheese, vinegar, soap, beer, cyder Etc remain totally unexplained. Chaptal has lately given the chemistry of wine making. the late Doctr. Pennington did the same as to bread … good treatises on these subjects would   recieve general approbation [approval].

…I recall with pleasure the many happy days of my youth spent at College with your father. the friendships which are formed at that period are those which remain dearest to our latest day.
To Thomas Beale Ewell, August 30, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders want practical applications, not theory.
Ewell, a young physician, wrote Jefferson asking his opinion about developing some treatises on chemistry applied to practical purposes in America, such as soil improvement, baking, and glassmaking. Jefferson was all in favor if it improved life for their fellow countrymen. His assessment of most scholarship in chemistry was withering, written to impress other chemists rather than serve any practical purpose.

Ewell sent his father’s greeting and compliments on the President’s leadership. The two older men had been students together at the College of William and Mary in the late 1750s. Jefferson returned the sentiment, affirming that friendships made in youth were the most valued late in life.

“Your wonderful presentation as Daniel Boone was well received
and appropriate to the interests of our group.”
Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association
I am not always Thomas Jefferson.
Daniel Boone will inspire your audience, too. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Agriculture, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , |

If he cannot gamble and drink, he might just deliver the mail.

I suspect one single foible in Abrahams is at the bottom of all his difficulties. my confidence in him is built on yours who have tried him. here, where he is known in detail, he is considered as a gambler & given to those dissipations which that vice brings on. at N. Orleans he has found opportunities of indulging that passion … hence his sickness there, hence the death & theft of all his horses … you ask my opinion; I will give it only on the condition of your regarding it so far as your own judgment approved. I would limit Abrahams to [only the first part of] the route … and get Govr. Claiborne to find at N.O. [New Orleans another rider]from Fort Stoddart to N.O. Abrams will then have no field for dissipation & his other qualifications will have fair play.”
To Gideon Granger, August 25, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders have to deal with subordinates’ vices.
Gideon Granger was the President’s Postmaster General. The two collaborated often to provide better postal routes and extend mail delivery. The task of delivering the mail was conducted by private citizens who collected postage fees, kept a portion and remitted the rest to the federal government.

This letter details the concern over a single postal contractor named Abrahams and mail service to New Orleans. Jefferson made these observations to his trusted lieutenant.
1. All of Abrahams’ “difficulties” could be attributed to gambling and resulting bad behavior.
2. Jefferson’s only confidence in Abrahams was based on Granger’s.
3. In Washington City (now D.C.), Abrahams’ difficulties were very well known.
4. In New Orleans, Abrahams found new opportunities to gamble and drink.
5. Those dissipations led to his illness plus the death or theft of all his horses, essential for mail delivery.
6. Granger had asked Jefferson’s opinion. He gave it but stipulated Granger should accept it only to the degree that it aligned with Granger’s own judgment.
7. Divide the postal route to New Orleans in half. Give the first half to Abraham’s. Give the second half to someone else.
8. Deprived of the opportunity to gamble and drink in New Orleans, Abrahams’ “other qualifications will have fair play.”

Taken altogether, those eight observations highlight an excellent example of Jefferson’s leadership: his respect for Granger’s judgment and authority, his compassion for Abrahams, and a Solomon-like solution to a problem.

“Please know how much I appreciate all your effort.
You have provided a real service for the educators of Missouri.”
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mr. Jefferson will make the effort to provide a real service to your audience.
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You should have nailed it! You have not.

Be pleased to send two tons of nailrod …
I am sorry to be obliged to make complaint to you. my manager desired me to do last spring or fall, but I let it go by in hopes the ground of his complaint was temporary. he sais that for a twelvemonth past there has been an extraordinary proportion of the short & flawy pieces of rod, which cannot be used at all … I have thought it due to you as well as myself to hand this complaint on to you, as your people might carry on this abuse to your prejudice & without your knolege.
To Messrs. Jones & Howell, August 23, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Avoiding confrontation is a leader’s loss.
Jefferson regularly purchased “nailrod,” long thin lengths of iron, which slave boys turned into nails for sale and for use at Monticello. Jones and Howell were Philadelphia iron merchants who allowed Jefferson to buy on credit.

Jefferson’s nailery manager had been telling him for a year of a marked decrease in quality of nailrod. In some 50 lb. bundles, 12-15 lbs. were worthless. In all bundles, there were at least 5 – 6 lbs. of waste.

Jefferson hated direct confrontation with anyone, so he had delayed acting on his manager’s complaint, hoping the problem was temporary. Now, when it was time to order more, he had to address the problem. Even so, he extended the merchants a courtesy, suggesting the problem was not theirs personally but one concealed by their subordinates.

The President showed his confidence in the merchants by ordering more nailrod and promising payment soon of $253.33 for rod received in May. He made no deduction for the worthless rod (10-20% the total) that had already been shipped to him.

“One [attendee] wrote, ‘I have to say that will all the excellent speakers you had for us,
I was particularly taken by Patrick Lee aka Thomas Jefferson.’ “

Executive Director, Missouri Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Mr. Jefferson will be excellent for your audience.
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Do not encourage the cockroaches.

as long as the criticisms on it [a Jefferson appointment] were confined to Jackson’s paper, I did not think it ought to be answered; because papers which are in the habit of condemning every measure, ought not to be answered on any one, lest it should give force to their unanswered criticisms.
To Henry Dearborn, August 22, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The wise leader ignores those who are always opposed.
The opposition press was critical of Jefferson’s appointment of a certain businessman to provide supplies for the Indians in the West. Jefferson didn’t respond, because that paper opposed everything he did. If he responded to an attack on one issue, it could give credibility to other issues not responded to. Better to ignore them completely.

This letter went on to address criticism of this appointment by a friendly newspaper. That was much more of a concern to Jefferson, and he explained to Dearborn his reasoning in selecting that individual.

“Our profession faces difficult challenges, and we needed and “upbeat” kind of talk.
That’s exactly what you gave us.”
Clinical Laboratory Management Association, Central New York Chapter.
Mr. Jefferson will encourage your audience.
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Individual enterprise is smarter than government!

I have recieved the specimens of straw-plaiting which you were so kind as to inclose & …the possibility that you may establish the manufacture in some of the states. but the distribution of powers by our general [US] & state constitutions has placed in the general government no authority to embark in or to encourage … state governments can do it; but they generally leave them to individual enterprize, trusting that the sagacity of private interest will generally discover those pursuits which may be entered on to advantage.
To George White, August 18, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders know who knows best.
White’s wife had perfected a process for braiding straw that in turn would be used to make straw hats. That product was imported from England, and White asked the President’s patronage for establishing an American manufacture. White thought it could pay its own way once operational.

Jefferson declined any help because the U.S. Constitution made no provision for it. Always a proponent for American made goods, he deferred to state action. Even so, states usually deferred to private individuals. Why? Because the wise businessman was far better able to determine economic feasibility than any government ever could.

“Our members were very pleased,
and we are still hearing positive comments and rave reviews.”
Associate Director, Oregon School Boards Association
Your audience will thank you for bringing Thomas Jefferson.
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What kind of a man was Patrick Henry?

he was certainly the man who gave the first impulse to the ball of revolution. were I to give his character in general terms, it would be of mixed aspect. I think he was the best humored man in society I almost ever knew, and the greatest orator that ever lived. he had a consummate knolege of the human heart, which directing the efforts of his eloquence enabled him to attain a degree of popularity with the people at large never perhaps equalled. his judgment in other matters was inaccurate in matters of law it was not worth a copper: he was avaritious & rotten hearted. his two great passions were the love of money & of fame: but when these came into competition the former predominated.
To William Wirt, August 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
How do leaders assess other leaders?
Wirt asked Jefferson’s detailed assistance for a book about Patrick Henry. Jefferson declined, citing the time it would require. Instead, he made these general observations. Henry was:
1. In public, almost “the best humored man” he had ever known.
2. The greatest public speaker with an unequalled ability to influence people
3. Lacking in judgment in matters other than oratory
4. Incompetent as a lawyer
5. Greedy and dishonest, motivated by money and fame

Jefferson did not comment on their political differences, which were many, but on Henry’s character as a person. Nor did he mention Henry’s accusation of his (Governor Jefferson’s) cowardice in fleeing Monticello as British soldiers ascended the mountain to capture him in 1781, charges that grieved him for years.

Wirt’s 1817 book on Patrick Henry is the source of Henry’s famous address to the House of Burgesses in 1775, claiming “… give me liberty or give me death!” None of Henry’s speeches were written down at the time of delivery. This version, given more than 40 years later, is considered fanciful, as is Henry’s most famous quote.

“… we would like to express our sincere appreciation for your excellent portrayal
of Thomas Jefferson at our Annual Volunteer Banquet and Awards Ceremony …”
National Park Service, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Mr. Jefferson will inspire your audience, too!
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Leave a comment Posted in Lawyers, Personalities of others

Is it ethical to experiment on a condemned man?

with respect to the experiment whether Yellow fever can be communicated after the vaccine, which you propose should be tried on some malefactor, no means of trying that are likely to be within my power. during the term I have been in office, not a single conviction in any capital case has taken place under the laws of the general government. the Governors of the several states would have it most in their power to favor such an experiment.
To Edward Rowse, August 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Rowse wrote to Jefferson speculating on the connection between four diseases: cowpox, smallpox, plague and yellow fever. The smallpox vaccine had already proved effective against that disease and the cowpox. There was some speculation that it worked against the plague. Rowse wanted to know if it might also protect against yellow fever.

To that end, Rowse suggested an experiment be conducted on someone already condemned to die and asked Jefferson’s help. The President declined, not on moral grounds, but for lack of a subject. During his Presidency, no one had been convicted of a capital offense under federal law. Those convictions occurred under state laws. He suggested governors might be able to help Rowse with his experiment.

“I am pleased to give Patrick Lee my highest recommendation as a speaker.”
Executive Director, Wyoming School Boards Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Debt cannot result in lifetime imprisonment.

procure the opinion of the judge before whom he was convicted, whether he considers the prisoner a proper object of pardon within the views of the law? and if imprisonment until he pays his fine should, from his poverty be equivalent to perpetual imprisonment, which the law could never intend, then what term of imprisonment, should be substituted for the fine, after which & not before he should recieve a pardon.
To David Howell, July 21, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Compassionate leaders seek justice for others.
Jefferson had received a petition from a David Briggs, requesting a pardon from imprisonment “for a breach of the revenue laws.” Not being familiar with the case, Jefferson asked Howell to ask the opinion of the sentencing judge: Were there legal grounds for pardon?

The President was concerned about justice, too. Was Briggs was imprisoned until his fine was paid? Had incarceration impoverished Briggs, making it impossible for him to pay? If so, this was a life sentence, nothing that justice intended. Jefferson wanted to know what sentence would suffice for the fine, after which Briggs could be set free.

“The address was fascinating history and presented with a flair
that kept the audience spellbound.”
Conference Chair, Nat’l Academic Advising Association, Region 7
How many keynote speakers keep your audience spellbound?
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